Last surviving child of Aldiss of Fakenham founder celebrates her 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 11:23 02 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:23 02 February 2017

Miriam Flower is the last surviving child of the founder of the Aldiss department store in Fakenham. She has just celebrated her 100th birthday. Picture: Courtesty of Tim Aldiss

Miriam Flower is the last surviving child of the founder of the Aldiss department store in Fakenham. She has just celebrated her 100th birthday. Picture: Courtesty of Tim Aldiss

Courtesty of Tim Aldiss

The last surviving child of WJ Aldiss, the founder of the Aldiss department store in Fakenham, has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Miriam Cecilia Aldiss was born on February 1, 1917. She was one of eight children born to William James and Isabelle Aldiss, of Belle Vue, Norwich Road, Fakenham.

She celebrated her birthday at home in Great Massingham yesterday.

Children from the village school came to sing Happy Birthday to her, followed by more songs by the King’s Lynn Band.

About 50 villagers also visited her home carrying candles to wish her happy returns.

Her nephew, Tim Aldiss, chairman of the Aldiss group, said: “She’s a fantastic lady and is a much-loved aunt and godmother to many in her large family.

“Even at 100 she keeps in touch with her many nieces and nephews remembering their children’s names, what they are doing and their birthdays.

“Her memory and knowledge are quite uncanny. The family visit her often as do the villagers. If any of the family wants to know what is happening with first, second and even third cousins Miriam will know.”

He said she was still “as sharp as sharp”.

“When she was opening her telegram from the Queen, she said that, unfortunately, she could not be with her, as she had a bad cold, but she would cycle over and see her some time.”

A farmer’s wife she served in the Women’s Voluntary Service during the Second World War.

After the war she gave her time to drive people to hospital and also was a brown owl with South Creake Brownies.

Mr Aldiss added: “Married to Bertie Flower, they moved to Great Massingham where they became a much-loved and respected couple in the village. They did not have children.

“She was a devoted gardener and great dog lover. Her garden was outstanding beautiful and open to the public. She taught Sunday school at St Mary’s, Great Massingham for many years. There is a bench inscribed to them on the Weasenham Road, next to the duck pond, near her house.”

She was educated at a girls’ boarding school in Hunstanton and once accompanied her mother on a grand tour of southern Africa, dancing with Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, grandson of Queen Victoria, on board ship.

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WJ Aldiss Ltd was established in 1892, when the first managing director, William James Aldiss, started a drapery shop in Norwich Street, Fakenham. Since that date, the company has moved several times in the town, expanding to several larger premises including Norwich Street and Upper Market.

In the 1950s the introduction of furniture by William V Aldiss, the founder’s eldest son, meant that Aldiss could provide a wider range of household furnishings, soft furnishings and linens.

By 1988 the company saw Tim Aldiss take over as the new managing director and the company move to its present superstore site in Oxborough Lane.

Mr Aldiss is now chairman of the group.

Aldiss has two stores in Fakenham and one on the Hall Road Business park to the south of Norwich.

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